The latest round of Africa Rugby Gold Cup matches produced one-sided scorelines with Namibia and Kenya now sitting top of the standings.
Namibia lead the six-team competition with a maximum 10-point return from their first two matchs after they backed up their opening round win over Tunisia with a resounding 95-0 victory against Senegal – the Welwitschias’ highest score for 15 years and the second-best in their history.
Phil Davies’ side crossed for 15 tries in Windhoek, a tally matched by Kenya in their equally emphatic 100-10 win over Tunisia. It was the Simbas’ record test score, easily beating their previous best of 80 points, achieved against Botswana in 2003.
Namibia’s victory was all the more remarkable considering they played the majority of the game with only 14 men after Rugby World Cup 2015 hooker Louis van der Westhuizen was sent off in the 16th minute.
By that stage Namibia were leading 17-0, with van der Westhuizen having just scored their third try. Flanker and captain Rohan Kitshoff had got the first and went on to add three more in a totally dominant performance.
In total, 10 different players got their names on the scoresheet with replacement fly-half Theuns Kotze rounding off the scoring when he converted his own try two minutes from time. Kotze was successful with all three of his attempts at goal whereas Eugene Jantjes could only manage five from 12 in the 65 minutes he was on the field.
Having dropped points in their opening match after drawing 33-33 with Uganda, Kenya knew they could not afford another slip up in their next outing at home to Tunisia. But no-one could have envisaged the manner in which they would set about their task, over-running their opponents at will in a record-breaking display of power and pace.
Jacob Ogee started and finishing the scoring spree as he helped himself to a hat-trick, while there were braces for Eric Kerre and vice-captain and fly-half Darwin Mukidza, who kicked nine conversions and a penalty for a personal haul of 31 points.
With both Namibia (21st) and Kenya (26th) significantly higher up the World Rugby Rankings than their vanquished opponents, nether result carried any rating points.
The Rugby Africa Gold Cup continues this weekend with Kenya welcoming Senegal to Nairobi and Tunisia travelling to Kampala to face Uganda.
Meanwhile, Morocco won promotion to next year’s Gold Cup after a tense 8-3 victory over the Ivory Coast saw them lift the Silver Cup on home soil in Casablanca.
As a result, Morocco stay in the hunt for a place at Rugby World Cup 2019 as the winner of the region’s top-tier tournament in 2018 will qualify for the tournament as Africa 1 and join New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and the Repechage winner in Pool B.
With their semi-final win over Madagascar on Wednesday also counting towards the rankings, Morocco have picked up 1.75 points over the course of the week to move up eight places to 42nd.
Despite claiming third place in the Silver Cup with a 47-19 over Botswana, the earlier loss to champions Morocco sees Madagascar slip four places to 49th.
Beaten finalists Ivory Coast remain in 53rd place but are 0.15 of a point better off than when they started the competition thanks to Wednesday’s 58-25 semi-final win over Botswana.
The only other match to affect the rankings this week came in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup where 10th-ranked Fiji earned three-quarters of a rating point for the 14-10 victory over hosts Tonga which confirmed their qualification for RWC 2019 as Oceania 1.
Fiji, who join Australia, Wales, Georgia and the Americas 2 qualifier in Pool D as a result, are now just seven-tenths behind ninth-ranked Argentina, while Tonga stay in 13th place.
Photo credits: Eric Onchiri